Arm announced on Tuesday that it acquired Stream Technologies in an effort to assist customers with securely connecting, provisioning, managing and collecting information through a simple user interface from massive numbers of Internet of Things devices that need security patches and other updates as long as they remain in the field.
Stream’s core technology is a connectivity management platform that works to automatically onboard connected devices, such as sensors installed on factory equipment or cameras embedded in traffic lights. Stream’s service enables embedded devices to automatically authenticate, provision and connect themselves to wireless networks, reducing the time and costs of establishing connectivity.
The acquisition is Arm’s latest play into software and services for the Internet of Things. In 2013, the company acquired the startup Sensinode, which developed a real-time operating system that would eventually become Arm Mbed, which is currently used by more than 300,000 developers, up about 30 percent over the last year. Other companies it has acquired are Sansa Security, Simulity, Offspark and Wicentric.
The company said Stream would be integrated into the Mbed IoT Device Management Platform, which allows companies to manage, provision and update firmware inside devices remotely. Managing devices over the cloud will likely grow in importance as more and more connected devices are installed anywhere and everywhere. Every gadget will need to be monitored and periodically sent security updates, which would take far too long manually. Arm expects the number of connected devices worldwide to reach a trillion by 2035.
The security of Internet of Things devices has also been subjected to heightened scrutiny in recent years. The problem was underlined nearly two years ago when Mirai malware infected more than 100,000 household devices and wreaked havoc on internet infrastructure. Many of the affected devices were unable to be patched over the internet and required recalls. Digital delinquents have also stepped up from breaching home security cameras to critical infrastructure, like power plants.
The Mirai incident highlighted the need not only for security improvements but also new ways to patch connected devices as quickly as new vulnerabilities are discovered. More broadly, semiconductor suppliers have strong incentives to make device management easier. The complexity of doing so could make potential customers think twice about installing chips in previously unconnected devices like connected traffic lights or door locks, hurting the bottom line of companies that sell Arm-based chips.
Arm said Stream’s software is compatible with many subscriber identity modules embedded directly into chips – more commonly known as eSIMs. That includes Arm Kigen, which the company recently introduced to enable secure identity and connectivity for Internet of Things applications. Stream supports the physical connectivity across cellular, satellite, and low-power wide area networks, and it currently supports about 770,000 devices.
Hima Mukkamala, senior vice president of Arm’s cloud services business, said that the acquisition would provide its customers with “a robust end-to-end IoT platform for managing, connecting, provisioning and updating devices that is easily scalable and flexible. This scalability is critical as we move from billions to trillions of connected devices.” The terms of the transaction were not disclosed.